Pro Tips: How to Prepare for Opening a Merchant Account

Interview with Eran Feinstein

 

Eran Feinstein - 3G Direct Pay CEOFor nearly ten years, Eran Feinstein, Managing Director of Direct Pay Online, has been leading the African travel market with online and mobile payment solutions. Eran and his team create structures that empower businesses to conduct business online, accept credit card and mobile payments, and cater to a broader global audience.

We sat down with Eran to get his insight and benefit from his experience as it relates to the process of opening a merchant account. If you are interested in accepting credit card and mobile payments for your business, consider Eran a mentor, an expert, and a friend:

Q:     I would like to set my business to accept online payments. What are my options?

A:      There are 2 basic options. The first is to set up a Merchant Account directly with a bank. Going this route means you will need to secure your website with SSL, have a customer care team, fraud prevention, and achieve PCI DSS compliance, which is a rigorous process.

The second option is much better for the way most African business operate. Your business would open an account with a PSP like 3G Direct Pay, which already has all the security certifications, is connected to multiple acquiring banks, and takes care of the customer service, fraud prevention, and the technology infrastructure.

The process to get set up and start accepting payments is much quicker and simpler by going the second route.

 

Q:     I would like to set my business up with a PSP like yours. What kind of documents and forms do I need?

A:      As a limited company or sole proprietorship, the only required documentation is a Certificate of Registration.  As a partnership, you will need the Partnership Agreement.

 

Q:     How long does it take to activate my account?

A:      When inexperienced merchants go at it alone, it can sometimes take months. My team relies on years of knowledge and experience, and we have excellent relationships with the acquiring banks.  They know that we do our due diligence, so when we bring a merchant to them for opening an account, it can be done within 2 hours.

 

Q:     Which currencies do you recommend that my business accepts?

A:      I suggest that you consider the main markets that you will be targeting, and accept payments in those currencies in addition to your local currency.  As ours is a global economy of scale, you should also accept also USD, EUR, and GBP.  3G Direct Pay offers processing in all currencies.

 

Q:     Which payment methods should my business accept?

A:      As far as types of cards: credit, debit, and prepaid. The most widely used brands are Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diners, and Discover. However, in Africa, businesses should also accept PayPal and all mobile money options: M-pesa, Tigo Pesa, Airtel Money, Vodacom, and MTN, for example.

 

Q:     I am debating between my own website payment page and a hosted page from the PSP. What do you suggest?

A:      We highly recommend a hosted page by the PSP. That way, they can monitor, track, and verify all your transactions on a secure payment page that is PCI DSS compliant. Remember, obtaining all of the necessary security certifications is a grueling process and can take a very long time.  The PSP hosted payment page is a quick, easy and effective alternative. End customers’ details are fully secure, and the PSP provides real-time fraud prevention services. Usually, the page can be branded with the look and feel of your website, so that the customers have a seamless experience.

 

Q:     How do I get my money?

A:      In technical terms, this is known as “settlement.” You will provide your bank account details to your PSP, and your funds will be sent there. Alternately, some PSPs will offer you a prepaid card into which they can deposit your settlement funds. With the prepaid card, you can make purchases or withdraw money at ATMs.

 

Q:     How fast can I get my settlement?

A:      This will differ by PSP. At 3G Direct Pay, we offer the industry’s fastest settlement. It is called an Early Settlement Service and allows you to receive funds into your bank account within 24 hours. The fee is minimal and many of our merchants opt in to this service.

 

Q:     My customers have inquired about mobile money payments. How does that work?

A:      We have an end-to-end pan-African mobile payment solution that enables merchants to accept payments from millions of mobile money customers in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Zambia. With this solution, merchants can accept mobile payments from any customer, anywhere in the region. The solution is multi-currency and converts the payment currency in real time.

 

Q:     What advice do you have for businesses who want to do it on their own?

A:      Frankly…my advice is “don’t”. If you needed to remove your appendix, you wouldn’t operate on yourself – you would rely on an expert surgeon who knows what to do, has years of experience, and has successfully completed the procedure many times before. Using a PSP is like that – we are the surgeons of the payments industry. Trust us to take care of your business professionally, quickly, and effectively.

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